Australian Liberal Party criticised over fake pamphlets

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Liberal campaigners have been accused of a smear campaign against the Labor Party after pamphlets were distributed in the federal electorate of Lindsay that implied Labor supported Islamic terrorists. The pamphlets claimed to be from the non-existent "Islamic Australia Federation" and praised "Labors support to forgive our Muslim brothers who have been unjustly sentenced to death for the Bali bombings".

A "stake-out" by Labor party members revealed the distributors of the pamphlet to include Greg Chijoff, husband of Liberal candidate Kate Chijoff, and Gary Clark, husband of the Liberal Lindsay MP Jackie Kelly, who will retire from her seat at the election. In an interview on ABC radio Kelly said she was "upset" at her husband, but tried to dismiss the pamphlet as a joke. "Pretty much everyone who's read it chuckles," she said. The incident was described as a "disgraceful act" by the Labor candidate for Lindsay, David Bradbury, and "deceitful" by Ikebal Patel, chairman of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils.

The Australian Electoral Commission are investigating the distribution of the pamphlets, and have forwarded the Labor Party's complaint to the Federal Police. The Liberal party has expelled two members in connection with the matter.

In interviews with press and at his major speech to the National Press Club, Prime Minister John Howard has condemned the makers of the pamphlet. "It's no part of my campaign and the party has acted promptly to deal with it," he said.